How can the professions integrate purposeful business into qualifications and practice?
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Sophia Adams Bhatti, Head of Strategy and Policy, Simmons-Wavelength, applauded the efforts of the British Academy on the launch of the Policy and Practice for Purposeful Business report, saying, "there are some amazingly profound and important messages in there."
She also spoke of the role education could play in fostering purpose in business; she highlighted that "education is a vital link in what I call supply chain of thought and value. So the profession is at the heart of it." She added that one of the key roles of education is in the "normalization of values."
She mentioned that one area she is particularly interested in is the "bridging of the supply and demand side so the educators and employers working collaboratively with businesses themselves, to try to form ways in which the professions can play a more active and supportive role."
Richard Gillingwater, Chair, Janus Henderson, raised the point that "all firms will benefit from the organizing and galvanizing effect of having a corporate purpose." Furthermore, he mentioned that "many leading firms have a clearly stated purpose and this is the case with the major accounting firms but it is striking that many do not and this is particularly the case in the leading law firms and actuaries."
He also highlighted that "corporates are increasingly interested in how engaged their professional service providers are with the topics of purpose, strategy and values." He also added that "it is now a matter of real interest that we see, as corporates, a reflection of what we are trying to see in our service firms. I would absolutely wholeheartedly support initiatives that obviously raise levels of awareness about purpose and ESG in professional service firms."
Sharon Machado, Portfolio Head of Business Reporting, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, stated that "Purposeful business is a sustainable one – it is an organization that's being a good corporate citizen."
She explained that to help create purposeful business, "ethical and sustainability in the context of innovation is incredibly important and digital has a major role in that." She also raised the point that to ensure that businesses are implementing and accountable for their purpose, "there needs to be a stick in all of this."
Tan Suee Chieh, Immediate Past President, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, argued that he thought the professionals had "lost the ethical situation that we had 50 years ago." He shared that he thought they should "step back and look at what role we can play as human beings and as professionals."
He also pointed out that "no one holds the key to change – not a single organization, government or individual." For there to be change, "we have to be multi-disciplinary and arouse purpose, goodness and consciousness within us".
Professor Teerooven Soobaroyen, President, The British Accounting and Finance Association, who moderated the session, said that "the way that change happens in organizations is via the cognitive pillar. Through the cohesiveness of training, the value of the professionals and how they are then transmitted to organizations all around the world. He added that "the role of the professions and education more generally is quite crucial in this respect."
Moderator: Professor Teerooven Soobaroyen
President, The British Accounting and Finance Association
Sophia Adams Bhatti
Head of Strategy and Policy, Simmons-Wavelength
Chair, Janus Henderson
Portfolio Head of Business Reporting, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Tan Suee Chieh
Immediate Past President, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries